Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Good Day After All

I am home now and winding down a bit. It has been an interesting, frustrating, tedious, and ultimately exhilarating day. Please allow me to relate the days events, as well as some past days events that led up to it.

A couple of months ago I signed up to be a delegate to the Republican Party's 7th District Convention, held today at the Hilton Hotel in Short Pump. I was going there to support my friend, Fred Gruber, to be the new chairman for the district. I submitted my application through a friend in Chesterfield, who was serving as a volunteer for Gruber. I did this rather than submit it directly through the Chesterfield County Republican Committee, because he and I both knew that were I to do that it would get....."lost." Well, the county mass meeting came along and my application was accepted. However, between the submission date and a few weeks ago, the committee's board, led by one Donald Williams (No fan of mine) decided that this just could not stand.

I eventually received an e-mail from the local "Credentialing Committee" (along with my friend, Joe Cacciotti) to attend a meeting they were to hold on a weeknight, to afford me the opportunity to "answer some questions," lest my application be rejected. You see, I do not say nice things about RINO's and I had the audacity to run against Eric Cantor twice, that just really grinds their gears. Well, I had better things to do than defend an application that had already been accepted and I told them so and did not attend. The following week I received another e-mail telling me that my application had been rejected. I was not going to be allowed to be a delegate for Fred Gruber. I was shocked, shocked I tell you. I made some inquiries about options that were available to me and was told that I should attend the convention and meet with the district credentialing committee prior to the opening of the convention. This I did.

I arrived early for the David Brat Breakfast and Town Hall Meeting across the street at a local eatery. I immediately saw my friend Ken Davis putting yard signs together, so I helped put up a bunch of those along the entrance to the Hilton. I spoke with several other Brat supporters and folks who had supported my campaigns in the past. We all shared our hope that the day's events would play out in our (liberties) favor. I saw and spoke to Doc Thompson and Dave Brat before the Town Hall kicked off..Along with Brat we also heard from Senatorial candidate, Shak Hill. The event only served to confirm my decision to support both of these gentlemen.

As this event started to wrap up the call came for delegates to cross the street into the hotel and prepare for the convention. I found the room where the committee was meeting and waited my turn. Apparently others were having credentialing problems, as well, although not for the same reasons as me. My turn came and in the room, on behalf of the CCRC, was their chairman, Donald Williams. The reason cited for my application being rejected was that I posted on my FaceBook page and blog last year that I was going to vote for the Libertarian candidate for governor. This is certainly true and I never contested that. However, extenuating circumstances were, I was told and believed, in my favor, so I made my pitch. I told the committee that I did indeed say that I was voting for the Libertarian, but that I had not worked for his campaign or given money to it in any way, shape, or form. I then pointed out that Eric Cantor was listed as a delegate for Henrico County, this despite having not only voted for Bill Janus (Independent candidate) in the Henrico Commonwealth Attorney race in 2011, but having openly campaigned and raised money for Janus. Why the difference in the application of the rules?

This is when the committee chair stated that, "This was not the issue before the committee." Then he asked Mr. Williams to state his case. Williams, as I expected he would, tried his best to paint a dire picture of me and my actions. He started by telling the committee that I had run against Cantor in 2010 as a member of the "Green Party." I gave him a quick, hard look and he quickly changed that to "Independent Green Party." I jumped in and said "Independent Greens of Virginia, Donald. If you're going to use it to beat me up with at least get the name right and what they stand for." He knows now, as he did then, that the IGV serve only to help Independent candidates run against the two-party machine, but why let facts get in the way? He related how I had submitted a letter in early 2011 renouncing my affiliation with the IGV in preparation for seeking membership in the CCRC. This I did at the behest of several friends and Republican Party members, who wanted me to challenge Cantor in the 2012 primary, as they thought I stood a better chance of beating him in that format. Overlooked and ignored in all this was the fact that prior to 2011, and my attempt to become a member of the CCRC, I was not and never had been a member of the Republican Party, therefore Williams' contention that my vote for a Libertarian was my second, and unforgivable offense, does not stand up, but again, why let facts get in the way.

Williams continued to state that my application for membership was rejected by the CCRC and then said that I had had nothing to do with the Republican Party until today, seeking to be a delegate. I immediately inserted myself into the conversation and related how Williams and the board of the CCRC had set me up to be rejected (more on that at another time). I also looked right at Williams and then the committee chair and said, "Uh, excuse me, anyone remember 2012? I ran in the Republican primary and spoke at the convention in this very building. Linwood Cobb was the one who approved my petitions that put me on the ballot. You can't run in a Republican primary if you're not a Republican. Donald, you need to get your facts straight" Well, my words were wasted, as the committee decided that I did not deserve to be a delegate. I cannot say that I was surprised. I fully expected this kind of shenanigans, as the party in recent years has shown it is all too willing to play this game. I left the room and was speaking to a couple of people outside the door when Williams exited and approached me. He had the kind of grin on his face that one has when they know they have gotten away with something. He extended his hand and said, "Sorry, Floyd, it's just the rules." I refused to shake his hand and looked disdainfully at him and said, "No, it's just more game-playing, Donald. Just stop the games. Do the right thing and stop acting like a Democrat." he left.

I decided to stay and watch. Initially we were told that no "guests" would be allowed, only delegates. So, I thought I was going to leave, when Linwood Cobb, of all people, announced that "Guests could stand at the rear of the room." I did so as Joe Cacciotti's "guest." First came the vote to fill the position of "temporary Chair" for the remainder of the convention. It was obvious who Cobb and the establishment wanted and they did their best to get him and they did. Manoli Loupassi was selected as the temporary chair. The vote for that position took almost an hour, which is very unusual, but given the party's propensity for the aforementioned "game-playing" I was not surprised. A large portion of the crowd there was not happy with his selection or some of his subsequent decisions. It was obvious that a large portion of the crowd is as tired of the games as I am.

Then the nominees for the chairman's position, Linwood Cobb and Fred Gruber were announced. After that the voting took place. While the voting was going on David Brat finally got to speak. I was fully expecting them to try and keep him off the stage, but he got up there. Brat made a fine speech and took Cantor to task for the lies his campaign is spreading about Brat being a liberal. Cantor pulled the same stuff with me, so I had warned Brat to be prepared for this. Then came Cantor. He immediately made reference to Brat's comments and said that Brat was lying. Nothing specific, as Brat had been, but just a generic, broad-brushed, "He is lying." Well, the crowd was having none of it. The boos were loud, so loud that I could not hear Cantor, even over the loudspeakers. Cantor was getting visibly upset, as I am sure he has never had to deal with this kind of treatment at a "Republican" gathering. Each false and phony contention that he made, and there were many, was met with this cascade of boos. I have to admit I was enjoying watching him squirm. The few times he got any applause, from his hardcore admirers, it was weak, at best. It was obvious to this observer who the crowd preferred and believed.

Finally, the voting was done. I had stuck it out, despite my knee aching from standing for so long, but it was to be worth the wait. Loupassi stepped to the podium, stated that the voting was done and asked the crowd to be be quiet so he could read the results. Now I must admit that I am not often given to exuberant demonstrations in public. I may say some things with passion, but I seldom do any jumping up and down or waving of arms and such. As Loupassi read the first result - Fred Gruber 688.8 - I thought, "Oh great, they're reading the losers votes first for dramatic effect." Then he read - Linwood Cobb 639.5 (I may be a bit off on the numbers). For just that brief moment I stood there, rolling it over in my head, did he....were they.....YES!! I pumped my fist in the air and hollered, "YES YES YES!!" I then quickly regained my composure, except for the huge smile on my face. People all around were high-fiving and handshaking, and back-slapping. I shook hands with people I knew and people I have never met, but we were all ecstatic at the news. The Cantorites, and you could tell who they were, all looked like someone had just shot their dog.

I must admit that the urge to find Williams and do a happy dance in front of him was there, but I controlled the urge. All his shenanigans had done was reduce Fred's margin of victory by one vote. Way to go, Donald! Before I exited the room I found Fred Gruber. I shook his hand and told him how proud I was of him and that I knew he would make a great chairman for the district. Finally, the Republican Creed will see a rebirth in the district. Watching the political process and being run over by it is not a fun way to spend the day. It is necessary and it is good that there are people who are willing to participate in it, but it can be tedious and demanding. However, despite the fact that my participation had been curtailed I stuck around to see things play out and I am so glad I did. It was a good day in the 7th district.